New parks spend row
THE State Government has been accused of spending $1.8 million of taxpayers’ money upgrading another national parks site to pave the way for a private development. Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor raised questions at a hearing yesterday about a plan to build commercial accommodation on Maria Island.
THE State Government has spent $1.8 million of taxpayers’ money upgrading another national parks site to pave the way for a private development, the Greens have said.
Party leader Cassy O’Connor raised questions about a plan to build commercial accommodation at Darlington on Maria Island in parliamentary hearings yesterday.
A proposal for the “sensitive rebuilding of the historic Adkins House as an overnight accommodation base for guests” is under consideration as part of the Government's Expressions of Interest process.
Ms O’Connor said the Government had allocated $1.8 million in the 2017-18 state budget to the “restoration … of the Darlington site and to provide substantial improvement to the visitor services”.
“This smells very much like the allocation of public moneys to enable a private commercial development in the World Heritage convict site, not unlike the decision to upgrade the road and carpark prior to announcing a private development at the Bruny Lighthouse,” Ms O’Connor said.
The Mercury last month revealed the Parks and Wildlife Service spent $327,000 on a new architect-designed toilet block at the historic Superintendent’s Cottage and fenced, painted and reroofed the building at Cape Bruny between
May and June this year as secret negotiations were under way on a private operator’s proposal for the site.
Environment, Parks and Heritage Minister Peter Gutwein denied any link between the rise in government spending and the proposals for private developments at either site.
He accused the Greens of being anti-jobs.
“The Government is not going to apologise for investing funds into restoring and protecting our public assets and built heritage, especially World Heritage convict sites like Darlington.”
Darlington is recorded as a World Heritage Area as part of the Australian Convict Sites listing and is regarded as “the most representative and intact example of a probation station in Australia”.
Its current management plan seems to rule out private developments.
“Because of its inherent values and consequent attraction to key visitor market segments, Darlington does not need invented attractions,” the plan says.
“Ad hoc, incremental development decisions could also threaten Darlington Zone values.
“Inappropriate or inadequate facilities for both day and overnight visitors could detract from the recreational settings for visitors.”
The management plan is currently under review by Parks.